Prior to September 11, 2001 our client, Mr. B, was a government securities repo trader. His office was located on the 26th Floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Mr. B reported to work at his brokerage firm and started his day buying and selling government securities for his commercial clients, institutions such as Bank of Tokyo and Lehman Brothers. At around 8:45 a.m., Mr. B and his co-workers heard a loud explosion and felt the building shake, ceiling tiles began falling in Mr. B’s office and thick smoke filled the hallways and stairwells. Fifty minutes later, after descending 26 floors of smoke, heat, and chaos, Mr. B was out of Tower 1. Mr. B’s life was forever changed that day and nightmares of his escape would haunt him for years.
Mr. B, like many of his co-workers, returned to work, this time across the river in New Jersey with an unobstructed view of the altered New York City skyline. For two years following September 11th, Mr. B reported for work despite battling daily depression and severe anxiety resulting from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was no longer the same person. Mr. B’s medical condition made it difficult for him to work. The nightmares were daily and he was finding it impossible to effectively perform his job duties in the high stress and cut throat trading pit in which he worked. Mr. B sought help from mental health experts, but despite his treatment, his symptoms continued to worsen to the point that he was forced to stop working and file for long-term disability benefits with his disability insurance carrier. Mr. B had purchased his long-term disability policy from his insurance agent approximately 10 years prior to his date of disability.
In 2003, upon review of the abundance of medical support from his therapist and treating psychiatrist, his disability insurer determined Mr. B was totally disabled and began paying benefits. For approximately three years, Mr. B’s long-term disability insurance carrier paid him without any problems. Shortly thereafter, Mr. B’s disability insurer began questioning the extent of his limitations and restrictions. It was at this point that Mr. B hired Attorneys Dell & Schaefer to assist him in dealing with the various requests which were being made by his disability insurance company.
Mr. B’s disability carrier requested that he undergo an independent medical examination. Not long after the IME the insurer terminated Mr. B’s benefits relying greatly on the opinion of the insurance company’s hired independent psychiatrist and claiming that Mr. B was at best partially disabled but since he was not gainfully employed – a requisite to being partially disabled under Mr. B’s disability policy – he was not eligible to receive partial disability benefits.
In 2006, Attorneys Dell & Schaefer appealed the denial of benefits with the disability insurer and successfully had the denial overturned. The disability carrier continued to pay total disability benefits for another 2 years, however, in late 2008 the disability carrier sought the opinion of the same independent psychiatrist and again found cause to terminate benefits. Attorneys Cesar Gavidia and Gregory Dell began preparing the case for litigation. Prior to filing suit, the parties agreed to participate in mediation as a method of attempting to resolve the dispute. Mediation took place in New York City where the parties were able to successfully reach a confidential settlement which involved a complete lump-sum buyout of Mr. B’s long-term disability policy.